Monday, May 31, 2010

This "working" thing is too much like work.

I got a gig with some neighbors, cutting the dead wood out of their meadow.

Today I spent seven hours cutting juniper, and I'll bet I'm not a third done. With the cutting, that is. After that I've got to haul it all up their hill and convert it into firewood. I definitely need to get better at negotiating price, because I definitely underbid this one. Feeling very old at the moment.

Still, I console myself that I'm actually getting paid to learn something I need to know how to do. The Secret Lair will be primarily heated with wood, and nobody's going to be delivering that wood - I've got to go chop it for myself. Between the chainsaw and the falling timber, a guy could get hurt doing this. I'm a city boy, and there's a learning curve. By the end of this gig I should have some expertise, but right now I'm nursing a number of minor wounds and a plethora of not-so-minor aches and pains.

This "off-the-grid" and "off-the-books" business has its drawbacks. Don't let anybody tell you different.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


I think it's probable that if you're reading this at all, you are likely to agree with the proposition that Too Many Guns (TMG) is essentially a null value - there simply is no such number.
This is, of course, a highly subjective determination. Paul Helmke, for example, could easily place a value on TMG and express that integer in an extremely simple statement:
TMG > 0,
in that any number greater than 0 equals Too Many Guns. But even he, if pressed, would assign quite a list of qualifications and exceptions to the effect that TMG becomes a null value if G refers to Government guns. I don't have enough math to know how to express the complete equation, but this post would have been substantially funnier if I could. It probably involves cosines.

But who cares what he thinks anyway? For purely practical purposes, "TMG" only truly comes into play in the matter of storage and maintenance. For many (by no means all) people, a pragmatically accurate statement would be
TMG ≥ Cs + 1,
or the capacity of the gun safe(s) plus one gun, at which point things can get hard to keep track of.

Can you tell I'm having trouble finding something I've been looking for?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lookin' busy here...

Landlady and M are here for the long weekend. We got a bunch done on her project, and tomorrow we'll be moving either to M's Dome or The Secret Lair. I'm running out the door with fresh bread for a get-together with the neighbors, to wit: The very first dinner party at Landlady's Meadow House! Very exciting, may run late.

So no blog for you.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Yes of course the old lady deserved to die.

She wouldn't answer the questions.

Ten years ago the big complaint was the "long" census form, which has now been spun off into a "separate" form called the "American Community Survey." Now there are hundreds of stories about census "workers" coming to doors and demanding information, or even going to neighbors to get information about you. This old lady really meant it when she told them to get off her lawn, so of course she had to die. There just wasn't any other way to deal with her.

I'd ask something stupid like "Do you still think Mr. Policeman is your friend," but somebody would just give me a lecture about how this was a perfectly proper thing to do, and how if you don't cooperate with the nice police officer of course he's going to shoot you, what else would you expect? Simply getting off her porch and leaving her alone couldn't possibly be an option - how else would the proles learn proper respect for their betters?

God, sometimes I hate the world.

Had a good day for once.

The electrical and insulation on The Secret Lair is finally coming along, making me feel better about life. I needed a bunch of little things to proceed, so I tagged along with W to town for a hardware run. After that it was too hot and windy for wrestling with insulation mats, so I finally decided to find out why the track on the Jeep's passenger seat wouldn't let the damned thing go back even halfway.

Took the seat out, and couldn't find anything wrong. Took the track off the seat, and just as I was about to despair I found that itsy-bitsy rock that had wedged itself deeeeeep inside the track. Multiple banging on the track had wedged it in really good, but I finally winkled the damned thing out and everything started moving again. Lubed it up, bolted it all back together, and at last the Jeep is a two-seat conveyance again. Happy day! Took about two hours in the sun and wind, but I still got'er done.

Look, it isn't socialism, okay?

It's just people who are 'way smarter than you, making your decisions for you. For the good of society as a whole, sometimes the good of the individual must be sacrificed. These people have all the facts, they have the big picture. You little people can't be expected to see the whole thing from 'way down there, so just relax and trust your leaders.

It isn't socialism. Totalitarianism isn't socialism unless it says it is.

H/T to Karen De Coster.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Earth to Angsty Actors: Shut Up.

Look, I don't begrudge Jeremy Irons his pink castle, or his six other houses or his fleet of cars. If I had his money, I'd spend it on myself without remorse. But just where the hell does he get off with bloviations like:
“People must drop their standard of living [so] the wealth can be spread about. There’s a long way to go.”
But of course this time it's not just talk. Already he has divested himself of his vast collection of possessions and currently walks the earth doing good, like Kane in Kung Fu. Meeting people. Getting into adventures. Right? Oh, wait...
Launching himself as a green campaigner, Irons has revealed plans to make a documentary about sustainability and waste disposal, likening himself to Michael Moore, the controversial film maker, although “not as silly”.
Too late, Jeremy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I've recently noticed something...

...About concealed carry proponents. Or gun nuts in general. They're not necessarily my allies.

No, I'm not going to mention any names or sites. I was in the wrong place, and it was up to me to know that before I signed in. Kinda reminds me of a very embarrassing incident in a gay bar, many years ago. Poor situational awareness has always been my nemesis.

One of my pet peeves, for years and years, is people who bragged that they could carry guns - when hoi polloi could not - because they had wrangled "police creds" for themselves. They weren't cops, they didn't claim to be cops, but they snuggled up to the cops enough that they snagged themselves a privilege others couldn't have. What bothered me, in addition to their usual smugness, was the sense of righteousness they exuded over it, as if by committing that perfidy they had demonstrated what good citizens they were.

You don't see it so much anymore, of course, because it isn't needed so much any more. And I stand by earlier statements that I'm all in favor of the work done (by others, not me) that has caused a startling turn-around in gun laws in the past several years. I honor the work of the people who brought that about. I do.

But...well, I've just had it pushed in my face that just because a group of people agree with me on one thing, doesn't mean they agree with me. Or even live in the same world as me. The first time I heard Claire Wolfe's beautiful phrase "freedom outlaw" I adopted it as my own because that's what I am. I will be free if I have to break every law in the history of jurisprudence to do it. I will be free if I have to spend the rest of my life in prison to do it. I have no part with people who beg and plead for the privilege of exercising rights they were born with, people who pride themselves on how very law-abiding they are and count that as a measure of their "goodness," people who kiss the hands that rivet on their chains.
"If ye love wealth better than liberty,
the tranquility of servitude
better than the animating contest of freedom,
go home from us in peace.
We ask not your counsels or your arms.
Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you.
May your chains set lightly upon you,
and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Well, Who HASN'T wanted to clock a TSA screener?

From USA Today:

Pushy fliers may show up on TSA's radar
WASHINGTON — Airline passengers who get frustrated and kick a wall, throw a suitcase or make a pithy comment to a screener could find themselves in a little-known Homeland Security database.

The Transportation Security Administration says it is keeping records of people who make its screeners feel threatened as part of an effort to prevent workplace violence.
And here's the part that will really, um, amaze you, announced by the reporter with not the slightest sense of irony:
Lee said attacks and threats against screeners are "rare" and the database has records from about 240 incidents. Most are screeners in conflict with other screeners. About 30 incidents involve people such as passengers or airport workers attacking or threatening screeners, Lee said.
Millions upon millions of airline passengers. A reported fifty thousand screeners. Seven-to-one ratio, the violent offenders are screeners. Who do they hire for that job?

Lessons Learned Today:

Never throw a lit cigarette into a pile of dry horse manure.

Just take my word - details are too embarrassing.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Does "tactical" even mean anything?

Yup, it's still in the dictionary:

   /ˈtæktɪkəl/[tak-ti-kuhl] –adjective

Of or pertaining to a maneuver or plan of action designed as an expedient toward gaining a desired end or temporary advantage.
By that definition, I suppose you could argue that everything I do or say or own is "tactical." Therefore the original intent of this post is moot, as I intended to make fun of this.

Nah. Can't buy it. I'm sorry, even if you actually belong to LA SWAT, a bright red polo shirt cannot in any sane universe be termed "tactical." Not if the word has any meaning.

I remember laughing out loud the first time I saw a pistol - Don't remember exactly but I think it was an HK - with a green slide that said "tactical" right there in bold black lettering as if to imply that every other pistol ever made just wasn't "tactical" enough. I said to a friend at the time, "that is the beginning of the end for that word." Now we've got tactical pants (used to be cargo pants or, if camouflaged, "cammies") tactical knives (which are any arguably cool-looking folder) tactical sights, belts, fanny packs, sunglasses ... you name it. To CRKT's everlasting credit, the company does NOT call this a "tactical spork" - but innumerable commenters do. Even though it doesn't even come in titanium.

Seriously. We bitch about the bastardization of the language, then let a perfectly good word get shanghaied to sell stuff?

They're the light of my life...

...when they're not being the bane of my existence.

A simple little ten-minute job. A quick Jeep ride over to S&L's house, where they just planted a whole bunch of flowers all over the place and asked me to keep them watered during the week. Beauty wanted to come along and I figured, "what could go wrong?"

When will I learn to spot the problem with that question?

Little Bear showed up at D&L's in record time - he must have run all the way. I expected that Beauty would be right with him, but she was nowhere to be found. Now I'm starting to hyperventilate, because it's one thing to lose your own idiot dog but when you lose your neighbor's - which you didn't have explicit permission to take in the first place - well, that's bad.

Beauty's not a big dog, and - god knows - not the sharpest knife in the rack. She should not be wandering the desert alone and if anything happened to her I'll never forgive myself. Nor will I expect much in the way of forgiveness from W.

Finally had to give up and head back, to either find that she went home or enlist W in the search. And there she was, not exactly as bold as brass. She knew she was in trouble: As soon as she saw me she crawl-walked over and sprawled at my feet. Well, at least she acknowledged that she shouldn't have run off, unlike LB who was just delighted to finish his adventure with a Jeep Ride! I've often wondered if everybody wouldn't be better off if I stopped going to get him, because this business of a Jeep ride home is definitely a reward for bad behavior. Trouble is he usually goes to D&L to visit their dogs and they don't want him around but he won't leave. When he shows up at J&H's they just shoo him away, and he usually comes home from there on his own.

Ghost, for a wonder, stuck with me. In fact, in hindsight I think he tried to tell me they'd run off. Goodness, I'll be glad when LB gets a few more years on him, and maybe a little wisdom.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Plan 9 From Firefly?

Oh dear oh dear.

Joss Whedon, what have you wrought?

It seems some folks have decided five years is enough to wait for another reboot of that great, abortive show Firefly. They've taken matters into their own hands, and if this trailer is any clue it's really gonna suck.

Expect Chicago homicides to drop dramatically.

The ones you hear about, anyway...
Police Supt. Jody Weis knows that he will ultimately find himself on the hotseat for the surge. But, he’s got a new defense.

He's creating a new category of "indoor" homicides — and downplaying what police can do about them..

“Those homicides that are outdoors — the ones that I do believe we have a good possibility of preventing — we’re around 98 homicides for Chicago outdoors. That’s as low as it’s ever been, except for 2007, when I believe we had 97 homicides outdoors as of this date,” he said.
Any day now, The Onion's going to give up the fight to keep up with reality. You just can't make this stuff up.

Tell me again why we pay cops?

Hee hee! I like it!

I don't spend a lot of time with Lew Rockwell. Nothing bad, but the site lost my interest year before last with its "All-Ron-Paul-All-The-Time" editorial policy and just never got me back. But I do enjoy me some Gary North from time to time, and this morning's essay is a beaut. "The 1099 Tsunami" gleefully shares the subversive possibilities of a little-remarked provision of Our Glorious Leaders' shiny new health care bill...
...that will force businesses to file 1099 forms on every transaction with another business for over $600. Buy a $601 used car for your business? You must file a 1099. The Cato Institute describes this law.

Basically, businesses will have to issue 1099s whenever they do more than $600 of business with another entity in a year. For the $14 trillion U.S. economy, that's a hell of a lot of 1099s. When a business buys a $1,000 used car, it will have to gather information on the seller and mail 1099s to the seller and the IRS. When a small shop owner pays her rent, she will have to send a 1099 to the landlord and IRS. Recipients of the vast flood of these forms will have to match them with existing accounting records. There will be huge numbers of errors and mismatches, which will probably generate many costly battles with the IRS.
Gary North's solution to this problem? What problem? Give'em what they want!
The IRS will be buried in billions of new forms. I'm an older guy. I think back to Carl Sagan's memorable words in the 1980 PBS series, Cosmos: "billions and billions." These forms will have to be scanned into the system. If businessmen want to protest this law in a legal but effective way, they will have their tax preparers write in the numbers by hand. Then IRS will have to type in the data on each form by hand. Billions and billions!

Business owners and managers will be outraged. But what if word spreads? "No electronic filing!" What if the tax preparers fill in all the forms by hand. It is legal. It is not efficient, but it's not all that much extra work. Pay a few dollars more per filing. At the other end, the IRS will get to process these forms by hand. Think of what happens if businesses were to challenge every challenge by the IRS? The business's CPA simply asks in writing – I do mean writing (hand-written) – for the IRS to review the case. Point out one mistake made by the IRS. Automatically, every business should challenge every request for more tax money. No exceptions. Be polite. Just ask the IRS to review its case in terms of this new information. There are always gray areas. Put them to use. Pay a few bucks to your tax preparer. Paperwork is the essence of every bureaucracy. Let's do it by the book: with paper.
Can you say white mutiny, boys and girls?

I knew you could.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Yet people keep electing them.

Via Claire, here's a great article on the sad psychology of politicians: They're just really (really, really) rotten kids who never grew up.
In understanding the foibles of politicians, I've always found it is a benefit to have spent large amounts of time with toddlers. Me! Me! Me! The narcissism of the toddler has its adult manifestation in the career politician: If self-absorption is not a job requirement, it is at least a helpful attribute in getting ahead in politics.

Is there a better explanation for soon-to-be-former Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter's artless explanation that he switched parties solely to keep his seat than a preschooler's sense of entitlement? It's mine! Gimme!

Anyone who's watched a gaggle of politicians jockey to see who'll speak first at a news conference understands that taking turns and sharing nicely come as poorly to elected officials as to 4-year-olds in a sandbox.
Yet, as Ms. Marcus concedes at the end of her article, more explanation is needed. Because as rotten as toddlers can be, and as toddler-like as politicians can be, toddlers still aren't nearly as bad as politicians:
Similarly, Souder seemed to believe he could get away with having an affair with an aide -- a part-time aide, he said, as if that matters -- who served as his co-host on a video promoting abstinence. You really cannot make these things up.

This leads to an important difference between politicians and toddlers. Both can be entitled narcissists with a problem distinguishing fantasy from reality. But it takes a politician to simultaneously preach abstinence and play footsie. It takes a grown-up to be such a hypocrite.

Zero Tolerance or Zero Intelligence?

Oh, my. What Jovian wisdom doth come with the office of School Principal:
QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. -- A kindergartner was suspended for "intent" -- finding a knife and thinking about taking it to school, even though he decided not to.

Josh Bejerano, 5, showed CBS 5 News the bush where he and his friends found a pocket knife Thursday morning on their way to school.

"It was in that bush right by that house," said Josh.

The kindergartner briefly put the knife in his backpack, but thought better of it and put it down.

"It was a bad idea, bringing the knife. It could hurt somebody," said Josh.

The small knife remained in the park, well off of school grounds.

But when the other boys started talking about it at Harmon Elementary, Josh was called into the principal's office, and ultimately suspended. He was sent home on Thursday.
Okay, the kid was finally let back into his class so he could "graduate kindergarten" with the rest of his "class." So all's well, right?

Can't say for sure. When little Josh was asked what lesson he'd drawn from the incident...
Josh said next time he finds a knife, he will simply, "Leave it alone."
Yeah, diplomatically spoken, Josh. But what you really learned was that the people in charge of ruining your life are a pack of morons. Right? C'mon - admit it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Comfort food with what's layin' around.

Okay, I've been staring at this big plastic jug of honey, half-full, which long since crystallized. It's still perfectly good, but very difficult to use in its current form.

I've got most of a pound of butter that's going to go bad any day now, certainly before I can use it up. Tragedy.

But put them all together, they spell Mother. Rig up a double-boiler with a couple of half-filled saucepans. Heat the honey until it goes back to its natural consistency. Glop the butter in a big bowl and measure in about that much honey. Stir like crazy until the butter disappears into the warm honey. Add cinnamon to taste, or don't. Find some small jars. Make your friends happy.

This is apparently satire so subtle...

...That try as I might, I just can't grasp the point.

Okay, the subject is SnapScouts, which purports to be an Android app kids can download (How many little kids carry Androids?) for the purpose of ...
...earn[ing] tons of cool badges and prizes while competing with you (sic) friends to see who can be the best American? Download the SnapScouts app for your Android phone (iPhone app coming soon) and get started patrolling your neighborhood.

It's up to you to keep America safe! If you see something suspicious, Snap it! If you see someone who doesn't belong, Snap it! Not sure if someone or something is suspicious? Snap it anyway!

Play with your friends and family to see who can get the best prizes. Join the SnapScouts today!
Wait, wait, wait. Don't let your blood hit the boiling point just yet, because there's a twist:
SnapScout and SnapScout Reports are produced and developed by MiniTru, LLC. Created in 2008 by George Parsons and Winston O'Brien, MiniTru LLC leverages modern technology to address the timeless threats to democracy and freedom.
So now it sounds like Orwellian satire. But the rest of the site...I can't quite decide if they're "fer it or agin' it." Or even what "it" might be in this case. I can't even really tell if there's an actual app involved. There's some sort of software you can download, but I don't know what it is and certainly didn't download it.

Assuming it's a hoax, (and I don't believe "minitru LLC" isn't a hoax) what's the point? Part of the mark of good satire is to ... have a point.

First seen on War on Guns, but it's pretty much everywhere once I looked.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I don't think I'd want to be Josh Sugarmann.

Poor guy. He writes this HuffPo piece crowing over the decline in sales numbers for ARs (and it's about damn time - maybe ammo prices will come down a little) and what does he get? Multiple pages of comments about the price of AR15s - from people who've been waiting out the sales boom.

Sheesh. When you can't get a majority of anti-gun comments on a Huffington Post thread, you are truly irrelevant. He also gets repeatedly spanked for his lies concerning the history of "modern sporting rifles."

Personally I've never been an AR fan, though I freely admit it's a rockin' accurate platform. Back when I shot a lot of high-power, guys with AR-based race guns used to regularly kick my (and my standard M1A's) ass. Of course the fact that I've never really been all that great a shooter had nothing to do with it.

This guy is...remarkable.

Who would want to live in Chicago? I just don't get it.
Mayor Daley loves to bag on the local media, and given my recent line of inquiry into his politics and policies, I’ve never expected to be greeted with a fruit basket at City Hall.

But even I was a bit taken aback this morning when the mayor grabbed a rifle and threatened to shoot me.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wait. I'm confused.

Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea reported yesterday that four of the nine Hutaree "terrorists" have now been released pending trial.

So...what happened to "weapons of mass destruction?" Vicious plots against police officers? Domestic terrorism of the worst possible sort? Is it ... Does this ... Oh, hell, it couldn't be that the government actually has no case against these poor loudmouthed losers. Could it?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I need to be a better negotiator.

If I'm going to do these piecework jobs, I've got to get better at negotiating prices. Five hours swinging a pick in the sun, and I'm only about 2/3 done with the neighbors' water trench. Almost no rocks; he was right about that. But every inch is packed-down clay, so you've got to tunnel under it and pry it up as if it were nothing but rocks. The fill is nothing but big chunks, so nobody's even talking about how I'm supposed to fill the trench back up. Break up all those chunks? Oh, my back. I promised to be back by seven in the morning, because right now they've just got a big trench across their yard which isn't exactly an improvement.

THEN I went to the cabin with the bathroom window, and learned that I had completely mismeasured the window and the frame is far too big. Too big's better than too small, but ol' creaky Joel just really didn't need that right then.

THEN while I was learning that great news I got a call from some neighbors warning me that the guy from the lumber yard was headed for the property, so I dragged my ass over to the meadow house. Landlady had ordered more sheathing, which we needed, but I'm not sure why she ordered 25 sheets. Got that situated.

THEN I drove over to the other neighbors who want deadwood cut. And the job isn't anything much, price seemed about right until she started cataloging all the different varieties of rattlesnake she's encountered in that field. Should have asked for an ammunition allowance.

Dang. Drat. Poop. Also, Ca-Ca.

Whine, whine, whine.

I'm sitting here over my coffee, for once dreading a day. That feels weird.

Oh, it's a familiar feeling, don't get me wrong. It used to be my default attitude at the beginning of any day at all. But that's one of the things - It's really the only thing - I came out here to get away from.

It's not really Spring anymore, Joel. It's really summer now. It'll be June in less than two weeks, and it's 'way past time for you to get off your lazy butt.

Yet it's hard to shake off my lethargy. I haven't felt well in no particular way, the pressure sores caused by my old prosthesis do not want to heal, which makes walking difficult, and I just generally find it difficult to get anything done. Which doesn't stop the march of time. Landlady, who quite rationally wants me to get my old lair off the site of her new greenhouse, has been gently asking how progress on the new lair has been going - knowing full well that it hasn't been going anywhere.

And it's the little things. Like my brand-new t-shirt yesterday:

Yup - Battery acid. I fight a never-ending battle not to dress in rags, but new t-shirts are expensive and so invariably become prized and protected possessions. So naturally I was wearing this one yesterday when we tested the batteries, and so naturally I flipped some electrolyte on my shirt from the hydrometer, didn't notice, and burned holes in my brand-new shirt. It only happens with new clothes, because old clothes are apparently immune.

Then there's the boys. Twice in a row I've gone to work on the lair, and twice in a row within fifteen minutes I was off looking for the dogs. Last year they just stretched out in the shade for however long I wanted to work, but no more. The new lair is closer to D&L's place. D&L now have two dogs, and my boys like to go visit. So suddenly they won't stay put when they come with me to the lair. Which means Gitmo for them, which I'm reluctant to do because Ghost does the best "You Suck" face you've ever seen and I'm a soft touch. But it's now a given that if I ever want to get any work done the boys have to stay home.

Enough whining, because I've got a lot to do today. It's shit-shoveling day, after which I've got a trenching gig (yay) and after THAT I AM going to install the lair's bathroom window which I was cutting out when the boys last disappeared on me. And after THAT I AM going over to some other neighbors who say they have a wood-cutting gig for me and I need to check on it before they change their minds. Wood-cutting is far more pleasant than trenching. The boys WILL spend most of the day in Gitmo, which is just bloody TOUGH. Got it? Good! Now fare thee well, because I'm going to work.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rulemaking Matters!

Well, as you may have heard, the EPA's "Rulemaking Matters!" video contest deadline passed yesterday. I've no idea what undiscovered Spielberg or Lucas might snatch up the big $2500 grand prize, nor do I care. But here's one of's entries, which I thought was appropriately low-key yet dead on. Subtitled for your protection!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rocket geeks unite!

I'm not a huge Tom Lehrer fan, but people who know me best know that I'm even more not a fan of Wernher Von Braun. A couple of guys were sitting around a few weekends ago discussing the relative merits of WVB and the person from whom he stole much of his "original" design work, Robert Goddard. Granted that Von Braun accomplished a lot bigger things than Goddard did, Goddard did it first and without the benefit of metric shit-tons of government money. People criticize Von Braun for being a Nazi, which he was, and for building big terror weapons, which he did. I don't hold much of that against him; it's not conventionally considered immoral to build weapons for your own country, even if your country's leaders are some of the most monumental assholes in history. But there was no excuse for all that unpleasantness at Mittelwerk, of which I don't believe he was unaware as legend insists. If he hadn't had what the American military suddenly wanted (after their decades of ignoring Goddard) and become a hero, Von Braun would have been very justly hanged as a war criminal.

In case, you know, you ever wonder what cedar rats in the desert discuss over a jar of unlicensed hooch, it's stuff like that. Also the best places to cut free firewood.

Anyway, getting back to Lehrer...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I said it for years before leaving Socal - I don't know where I'll end up but wherever it is, I'll never stop bitching about the weather. Weather was the one thing I liked about Socal.

So after days of wishing to hell the wind would stop blowing, now I wish we could get a puff of breeze to cool things off a bit. But it didn't get hot until after Landlady was packing up, so it didn't slow us down. We finished off our whole supply of sheathing, got the porch trusses up and roofed the porch and dining room, and sheathed the front and back of the big front parapet. So a good weekend all in all.

Pretty soon we'll kick out some holes where the windows are supposed to go, and it'll look more like a house.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Experiment successful

I got ready to run the generator late this morning to fill the water cistern, and then thought, "Screw it. I want to just plug the well pump into the wall and see what happens."

What always used to happen when I tried this was that the whole system got the vapors and collapsed on its fainting couch after about fifteen minutes, and I had to unplug the pump and re-boot the inverter and charge controller. W has been reluctant to try this experiment, but today he finally went along with my lunacy. I ran the pump for two hours and nothing bad happened, even in cloudy weather. (It wasn't cloudy when I started.)

This is pretty cool. Even with the clouds the voltage dropped into the low 24 volt range but never into danger. With the sun shining, it never got below 26.2 volts while I was watching it. The electrical system upgrades are sufficient for the heaviest single load I can put on the system. Though I don't think I'd dare run the well pump and anything else big, like the washing machine, at the same time.

Here's a first...

In an attempt to make it up to the boys for all the big-time walkies they haven't been getting, after chores this morning we went way back on the plateau before hooking up with a long canyon I've wanted to explore more. But every step you take in is another step you have to take out, and I've been slow healing from all the walking and carrying of the past month. So we'd pretty much just gotten into the canyon when I was ready to turn for home. And right about then, Ghost gave me an excuse.

Deer and elk lose antlers all the time, of course, in their thousands. But I never see them - I only find shards for the dogs to chew on. This is the first complete antler I've seen since coming here, and it's also a complete set. Not very impressive in the point count, but they're big enough for what I have in mind. I'm keeping these guys away from the dogs, because I've got decor ideas.

Little Bear pauses in his rooting for ground squirrels to say hi.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"A Still More Glorious Dawn"

I wish I could still believe this crap. I did when I was a kid.

Somebody with too much time on his hands writes a "Symphony In Science," re-mixing none other than that great showman, Carl Sagan:

The Rehabilitation of Michael Bellesiles

Anybody remember Michael Bellesiles? I'll bet all the shooters here do, and with no pleasure. In the year 2000 Bellesiles released a much ballyhooed book called Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture. To say this book caused a sensation is like saying an atomic bomb is rather loud. For just the longest time, this book was all anybody wanted to talk about - especially if "anybody" was a friend of gungrabbers. Bellesiles set forth a very well-written thesis claiming that everything we thought we knew about the frontier American "gun culture" was wrong - including the fact that it existed at all. He claimed to prove that there were relatively few guns in the early American colonies and few people thought that guns had any practical utility for day-to-day life. If true, this thesis was potentially devastating to the arguments of those gun rights activists who had built part of their worldview around the exact opposite belief - especially those who put great stock in the importance of the Second Amendment.

Of course, as all the world now accepts, Bellesiles' thesis was not only not correct, it was fraudulent in virtually every particular.

At first, of course, the complaints of inaccuracy came from people invested in gun rights, and of course their complaints were ignored or ridiculed by mainstream academia. But that center couldn't hold, because apparently Bellesiles' inaccuracies were so diverse, detailed, obvious and systematic that - far from being able to dismiss them - antigun academia was unable to explain how such a flawed and dishonest work had ever passed editorial muster and been published in the first place. The scandal was enormous, and Bellesiles lost a prestigious prize and eventually even his tenured position at Emory University. It was all very sad, I'm sure.

You might expect that those who had been so willingly taken in by Bellesiles' work of fiction would very happily allow him, and the humiliating scandal he caused, to quietly slip away into nothingness. For several years, that's precisely what he did. But incredibly, he's back. He's back with a new book. And he's back surrounded by a cloud - nay, by a veritable nimbus - of the lying lies that liars tell.

Bellesiles' new book is titled 1877: America's Year of Living Violently, and I don't know or care what it contains. What caught my - and a lot of other peoples' - eye was this statement in the galley letter for the book - sorry, can't find a link - released by a New York Times editor:
Michael Bellesiles is perhaps most famous as the target of an infamous "swiftboating" campaign by the National Rifle Association, following the publication of his Bancroft Prize-winning book Arming America...
That was arguably the wrong thing to say. The Arming America scandal only wound down about eight years ago, and it's not as though the participants are dead and unable to speak up for themselves. Clayton Cramer, James Lindgren et al were not about to permit their careful and historic debunkings to be downgraded to an 'NRA Swiftboating Campaign,' whatever that is.

James Lindgren was one of the principal Arming America debunkers. In his devastating post-mortem of the book and the scandal, a long 2002 article in the Yale Law Journal, he describes himself thus:
Let me state my biases up front: I dislike guns; I have never owned a gun; I have not touched one since the age of nine. Yet I don’t understand the passion that people bring to the issue of their regulation. My own prior writing on guns has been on the pro-gun-control side of the dispute, and some of it is so free from passion as to be soporific.
If you're interested in the Arming America controversy at all, I highly recommend reading the whole thing. It's rather long and in .pdf format, but quite readable.

What's clear is that Lindgren was certainly not in the pay of the NRA, indeed he was no friend of the NRA at all and apparently still isn't a big fan. In a piece he posted in the Volokh Conspiracy yesterday, he says the following about the likelihood of the Bellesiles takedown having been orchestrated by the NRA:
From what I’ve seen from afar, the NRA mostly concentrates on three things: raising money, publishing magazines, and lobbying Congress.

The real question here is why the NRA mostly stayed out of an inquiry in which people with no knowledge of the dispute just assume they must have had a nontrivial role.

After the Bellesiles affair was over, I asked a law professor who had in the past received funding from the NRA why the NRA was so savvy to stay out of it and let the academics handle it in the normal way. The answer I got is that the NRA wasn’t savvy so much as it is suspicious of academics, whom they neither understand nor trust. If the NRA pays for something, they want to control the message — and most academics won’t take money on that basis.
He says earlier that, from his admittedly sketchy knowledge, the sum of the NRA's involvement went like this:
1. Before the book came out, Charlton Heston criticized it in a column in an NRA magazine (after Heston had read an Economist article on the forthcoming book). Bellesiles more than effectively responded tp Heston with a direct assault on the NRA, enlisting several dozen scholars for his public letter sent to the NRA.

2. Much later Clayton Cramer asked the NRA for a small travel grant to check Bellesiles’s sources in Eastern libraries and he was turned down.

3. Two years into the dispute, when it was nearly over, I read about a Senator attacking Bellesiles in a speech at the NRA convention in Atlanta. He appeared to be relying on (and seconding) news reports in the mainstream press.

4. Other than a review authored by Cramer in Shotgun News and some additional very derivative news articles updating members on developments in the press, that’s all I remember seeing or hearing from the NRA over the 2–3 years of the dispute.

I didn’t regularly see what the NRA sent to members and I doubt that any of the other relevant academics or administrators did either. If the NRA were involved in the Bellesiles affair in any significant way, I would have heard something about it.
So whatever else you want to believe about Bellesiles and his books, it's apparently quite unnecessary to believe that he was done in by some sort of NRA conspiracy. Bellesiles did himself in, and he deserved every bad thing he got - with the exception of the frantic loyalty he apparently still generates within the hearts of the anti-gun crowd.

Though on the ropes for some time now, that crowd is still very much around - it would be a terrible mistake to conclude that they've gone away, no matter how quiet they may have been lately. But their flocking to this defrocked and discredited professor, and the weakness of their arguments concerning him, is a lovely paean to their desperate search for plausible arguments in their own favor.

Rotsa Ruck, guys.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wow. Old times.

Doesn't this sound weird now?
An Oakland County Sheriff's deputy stopped the man, Ricardo Chamblis, 58, after he turned out of a Kroger parking lot Monday at Wyoming and Eight Mile Road.

Police said Chamblis was driving on a suspended license.

The deputy brought the suspect back to his patrol car and patted him down before placing him in the vehicle, police said.

That's when the deputy found the suspect was illegally carrying a .32-caliber handgun, police said.

Police arrested Chamblis for carrying the gun and impounded his car.
This piece caught my eye for a couple of reasons. First, I've lived where people are relaxed about guns so long now that a newspaper article about a guy caught with a (snicker) .32 just strikes me as really funny. Not that the guy got busted, no, just that it was considered worth a news item.

But I shouldn't be surprised, because I used to live right there. In fact, I used to write for that paper. Seriously, The Royal Oak Daily Trib gave me my first column gig. Way the HELL back when. I'm a little surprised it's still in business.

Royal Oak is such a quaint place. I think it has to work at it, being bordered by Eight Mile Road and all. How often, these days, do you get to read tripe like this:
"Things like this are a reminder that to us that guns are always out there," said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard. "Typically, we find that people who are carrying guns illegally are doing other things as well."
Yeah, like driving their cars and not hurting anybody. I'd be interested to know what this poor guy was stopped for.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Well, Here's a conundrum...

A while back, I self-righteously declaimed, "You either love liberty for everybody, or you don't love liberty." I, of course, am without sin in that regard and can feel free to throw as many stones as I like.

Or maybe, not so much. Because I came on a David Codrea Gun Rights Examiner piece this morning that put my self-righteousness to the test.

Last month a fellow named John Shipley was convicted in federal court on weapons trafficking charges, keeping false records and committing "straw man" purchases. He was convicted by a jury, and I don't know whether he broke those laws or not. I do know that at least most of the laws he may have broken, shouldn't have been laws. I simply see no evidence that John Shipley hurt a soul. In this case, at least. Normally, outrages like this get me really mad.

So what's my problem in this case? Well...I have to admit it's a matter of prejudice. You see...

John Shipley is an FBI agent. From the web site set up by his family, we learn that he worked really hard to get into the FBI, and once there...
After graduation from the academy John was assigned to the FBI office in El Paso, Texas and for the past thirteen (13) years has worked as a Special Agent. John was a member of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team for 5 years, became a certified FBI Sniper in 2001 and has conducted many investigations. John was recognized with the Department of Justice / Federal Bureau of Investigation Certificate of Achievement from Director Robert S. Mueller in September 2002.
He is, in short, not my friend or yours. There's plenty of evidence that he'd have happily participated in railroading you or me on the same charges from which he now dangles. Now, why the ATF went after him, of all people, I don't know. He's hardly the only cop who deals guns for his own collection. After all, he's an "only one."

And yet...


By my own reckoning on such matters, he did nothing wrong. I should be outraged for him. Instead I'm sitting here nursing schadenfreude. As Mama Liberty said in the comments to Codrea's piece,
Justice must be equal for everyone. Justice built on the principles of non-aggression, self ownership and personal responsibility, of course.

If we deny justice to anyone, regardless of the reason, we deny our own. I hope this man finds justice, and the truth about non-aggression and self ownership/responsibility.
*SIGH* Yeah, ML. I guess I do, too. And then I hope he goes back to being a firefighter, which is a much more honorable trade.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The thing about generators... that when you need one, you need it right f***ing NOW. But when you don't need one, you don't give it any thought at all. Which greatly increases the likelihood that it won't be ready to use when you need it.

This comes to mind as I check the contents of the cistern, and find that they can most accurately be described as "lacking." The well pump pulls a massive amount of juice, more than our solar electric system used to be able to provide and probably more than it could happily provide even after the upgrade (though someday very soon I'm going to test that.) Consequently, to fill the cistern I still need the generator.

But during the house build we took the generator down off the ridge, which means disconnecting the battery and the ground rod and a few other things, and it never really got put back together again. Also, it was about due for an oil change before the house build and most definitely needed one now. (Hint for people who want to be happy with their one-lung, air-cooled generator engine - change the oil. Change it more often than the manual says you should. Just take my word for it.)

But then I remembered that I never did empty the drain pan from the last time I changed the oil and ATF in W's car. Which reminded me that the only container I have suitable for used oil is an old water jug which went down the slope in the last windstorm. Which reminded me that the reason the water jug was retired was because a rat drowned in it, said rat now being dessicated and impossible to get out of the jug. Yuck, but it's not like the dirty oil cares. fill the cistern, I need to get the jug, deal with the rat, empty the drain pan, jack up the generator, change the oil, let down the generator, connect the battery, connect the ground rod, find the heavy-duty power cord (still at the build site), then ...


During the several days of the house build we ran the generator almost continuously, to service several power saws and a nailgun compressor. I knew we used a lot of gas, but didn't notice how damn much. I've got eight fuel cans here, and they're almost all empty. And for reasons outside the purview of this or any other post, I just lost access to my transport to town.

Grumble. I may be finding out if the solar electric will run the pump sooner rather than later.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Okay, this is just funny as hell.

Check this out. No comment from me is necessary to make this funny. Just watch the damned thing, all right? What are you still doing here? (Caution: NSFW due to bad language.)

H/T to Bill St. Clair

Get a load of this.

Wonder why you haven't heard much from the Brady Bunch lately? Wonder why those breast-beating ninnies haven't been pissing in your Cheerios while gun rights activists have been cleaning up their mess in one state legislature after another? Where'd they go? Are they so terrified by the random gunfire and the blood flowing down the "wild west" streets that they can't bring themselves out from under their beds long enough to fight back?

Well, this might have something to do with it.

Imagine - all that fodder for their fearmongering, and the best they can come up with is a snarky Daily Show clip? I saw this almost a month ago, and thought it was funny as hell.

From the looks of their pathetic attempts at fundraising, they appear to have lost their base. Damn shame. Could it be that people looked around and saw that blood was not, in fact, flowing in the streets, and decided to keep their money in their pocket and stop hassling us?

H/t to The Smallest Minority

Saturday, May 8, 2010

In which I offend my two remaining Conservative readers...

I'm reading this morning from Jim Bovard's blog, following a conversation with a friend who's a big Bovard fan. He wrote an essay that got published in The Christian Science Monitor a couple of weeks ago, to a lot of attention. Because the essay was about the Tea Party movement but wasn't completely celebratory, conservatives came out in droves to attack it, and him.

Bovard seemed to get a kick out of all the hate, and published some of the, er, best comments on his blog. This particular one jumped out at me, because it contains almost everything I love to deplore in the neocon mind:
Warring, wiretapping and waterboarding are tools of war. The government’s biggest and most important job is to protect American Citizens. That means protect our people from enemies who want to take our way of life, our safety and and our precious freedoms. If the terrorists can’t take waterboarding then they better not get caught, huh? The main purpose of war is to win. Waterboarding is a walk in the park compared to what they would do to one our own people. It is effective and it really does not permantly damage the prisoner, injure him, or cause a lot of pain. We have to get information out of them some way. These terrorists want to kill us all! Thanks to other irresponsible journalists, all the terrorists now know how we extract information. If you are not engaging with terrorists you have nothing to fear so don’t worry about being wiretapped. The government will only wiretap you if are suspected of engaging with terrorists.. A perosn who does is an terrorist themself. As for the warring, just remember that we didn’t start this war and the US has the right to protect her people and territory.
Yeah, baby. If only the writer had thrown in "Without the sacrifices of the American serviceman, you wouldn't have any freedom at all," the stereotype would be complete. It cries out for a good fisking, and I'm just in the mood. So let's begin.

Warring, wiretapping and waterboarding are tools of war. The government’s biggest and most important job is to protect American Citizens.
Wiretapping is, alas, a tool of war. Waterboarding is torture, and until fairly recently in American rhetoric torture was something only the bad guys did. Torture was (rightly) considered a tactic of a failed police state, a banana republic, and beneath the principles of an enlightened state. Now suddenly it's the first option of heroes. I don't understand this reasoning. As to protecting American citizens, I question whether what the government is doing overseas is really having that effect. Making deadly enemies for no good reason, where there were no enemies before - or at least no effective ones - doesn't seem a terribly productive tactic toward that end.

That means protect our people from enemies who want to take our way of life, our safety and and our precious freedoms.
Who are these omnipotent enemies? A bunch of goatherds who'd barely heard of America before she started dropping bombs on them? Let's assume we're talking about radical Muslims. I've been in Islam, and it's not a place I'd care to live. Devout Muslims practice things I could never sign up for. But I don't recall that any of them ever tried to threaten my way of life, my safety, or my precious freedom. I definitely can't say the same for the fine men and women of the Bush or the Obama administrations.

If the terrorists can’t take waterboarding then they better not get caught, huh? The main purpose of war is to win. Waterboarding is a walk in the park compared to what they would do to one our own people. It is effective and it really does not permantly damage the prisoner, injure him, or cause a lot of pain. We have to get information out of them some way.
The mild - indeed the benevolent - effects of waterboarding have been extolled by all the great American thinkers of our century, from Limbaugh to Savage. None, I suspect, have ever experienced it, as I'm sure this writer has not. It, like any torture technique, is emphatically not "effective," because the victim will say anything, whatever he thinks the torturer wants to hear, to make it stop. That's never a nonstop path to the truth. As for "We have to get information out of them some way," why is that exactly? So Jack Bauer can stop the ticking bomb before his 24 hours are up? Because that's a television show, my friend, not reality. You should try reality sometime, just to see how it compares with your fantasy world.

These terrorists want to kill us all!
And why is that, exactly? Let's stipulate that there are indeed terrorists out there, who indeed would like to kill us all. Where'd they come from? Were they just born hating Americans? Did they suddenly, out of the blue, decide to drop what they were doing and become death-loving terrorists for no better reason than because Muslims are all a bunch of psychopaths anyway? Or did Americans do something to them worth hating? Because I'm looking at this government's record in Iraq, and Iran, and Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and...hell, all over the middle east. And I've got to tell you that if I lived there, I wouldn't be a big fan of the good old U. S. of A. Sorry.

Thanks to other irresponsible journalists, all the terrorists now know how we extract information.
Um...Yeah, that was never really a big secret. The only real utility torture has is its ability to scare the bejesus Mohammad out of others who might be tortured in future, which means you have to release some survivors to tell their tale. Secret torture doesn't have much use, except to help the torturer get his jollies. Information gathering really isn't the purpose of torture.

If you are not engaging with terrorists you have nothing to fear so don’t worry about being wiretapped. The government will only wiretap you if are suspected of engaging with terrorists.
Oh, this is my favorite. In the name of safety, we should all be prepared to dispense with our "precious freedoms" any time, at any moment, whenever our wise and benevolent rulers tell us it's necessary. All that "bill of rights" crap is just liberal posturing anyway - don't you know we're at war? And the government would never, ever abuse that power, no! That's why it's the government, and we're not! Because it's just so damned trustworthy. So set aside any qualms you might have about 'being secure in your person, house, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,' because if you're not prepared to sacrifice a little "convenience" for a lot of security, how do you expect the government to protect your precious freedoms?

A perosn who does is an terrorist themself.
And we know this because Joe Lieberman told us so. All good conservatives just love that guy.

As for the warring, just remember that we didn’t start this war and the US has the right to protect her people and territory.
Yeah, actually - depending on which war we're talking about - no, it really doesn't matter which war. Whichever you mean, America did, in fact, start it. Oh wait, you mean the war on terror, don't you? Yeah, there's no such thing. You can't fight a war against a tactic. You can only make war on people. And when those people are helpless enough, and enraged enough, a significant minority of them will resort to terrorism because that's what they've got. Your precious government isn't fighting terrorists. It's creating them.

Now of course I can't honestly discuss the war on terror without bringing up the one big event that brought on the war, 9/11. Never mind that 9/11 - assuming it happened just the way the government says, which I've never uncritically bought - was a culminating event that didn't come out of the blue. The Khobar Towers bombing and the bombing of the USS Cole were both carried out by parties who made no secret of their intent. "You're over here, and we don't want you here. Go away." When killing American servicemen didn't get the job done, those people did what terrorists do: They took their campaign to the civilians. What the 9/11 hijackers - who were mostly Saudis, by the way, not Afghanis or Iraqis - did was horrifying. It was unacceptable, and the survivors responsible for it deserved to die painfully. But if you think the ensuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have anything directly to do with 9/11, except as an excuse, I submit that you haven't been paying attention.

The topic - Bovard's essay - was originally supposed to be about the Tea Party movement. I used to think I knew what the Tea Party was all about, but I was apparently wrong. More and more, Tea Party activists come across to me as just another bunch of conservatives, who'll buy anything - any outrage from that "big government" they claim to hate so much - as long as it's making them feel all exceptional by "projecting force" on people far away, or saving them from the 'terrorists who want to kill us all.' It makes me sad, because for a brief, shining moment the Tea Party was actually kind of interesting. But that's the way it goes.

Sometimes I think most Americans actually enjoy being dupes.

Friday, May 7, 2010

It's not the song in my head...

...It's just a really cool song.

I have Tam to thank for it. She mentioned Beethoven's ninth, I went looking for a decent copy of Ode To Joy, and it just went from there. Though this one ends kind of abruptly, it's as faithful a copy of the original libretto as I could find.

No comment...

I just think this is really funny.
A Transportation Security Administration screener is facing an assault rap after he allegedly beat a co-worker who joked about the size of the man's genitalia after he walked through a security scanner.
Hm. It appears to be true what they say: People who go around flaunting their giant scanners are only compensating for a tiny...

Oops, I guess that was a comment...

She put a dead mouse in my pants.

See, I'm guessing most people don't have these problems. Shake out your boots, sure: That's just common sense. There's no telling what stinging creepy-crawlies might find their way into your boots overnight. But your pants? That's just wrong.

Note to self: Make sure Click's kibble bowl is filled before retiring for the evening. She apparently considers this non-negotiable, and her arguments are...compelling.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

And speaking of Lieberman...

I've just learned, via Tam, that May is Zombie Awareness Month. Do you know where your zombies are?

"You're a citizen if we say you are..."

"And if we say you aren't, we don' need no steeking Constitution..."

There are two things about this bill I suggest people get shocked and terrified by:
1. Terrorist Expatriation Act - TEA. Tea. Get it? Get it? Aw, c'mon. You get it, right?

2. Guess who gets to decide who's a terrorist?
...the State Department would also be authorized to revoke the citizenship of a U.S. national who provides material support or resources to a Foreign Terrorist Organization, as designated by the Secretary of State...
Yupper. Pass this one, Joe, and Hillary becomes the "Guess who's gonna be late for dinner" Czarina. Maybe she'll thank you for that, after her (literal, perhaps) coronation.

The best irony is the kind you don't know you've committed.

Hundreds expected for 'Million Mom March'

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What IS private anymore?

Let's say I'm a bookseller. I've got an interest in knowing what books sell best, and that information is easy enough to collect from my own records. But let's say I want to go farther than that; I need more information on what interests my customers. So I look up my customers' addresses, discreetly break into their houses (touching nothing, you understand; being very respectful of their property at all times) and rifle through their books. I make note of anything they highlighted or marked as of special interest. Maybe once in a great while - Oops! How did that edition get in here? I was supposed to have removed those from inventory - maybe once in a great while I take a book with me, if I don't think you should have it after all. I make sure to lock up after myself.

No problem, right? How could anyone object to that?

What's that you say? You do object after all? How unreasonable of you!

After all, that's exactly what is doing to you, if you bought one of their Kindle readers.

I remember reading about that kerfuffle a year ago where Amazon deleted some books from customers' Kindles. I remember being appalled at the arrogance of a retailer that would dare reach into your electronics and take back a product you'd bought in good faith. But according to Wendy McElroy, Amazon has gone further than that by far...
Amazon lists the most highlighted passages from customers using their Kindle. What this means is that Amazon watches every KIndle user to see what they are reading, what passages they highlight and compiles that information. In the past if you highlighted a book it was private unless you loaned it to someone. I bet most Kindle users had no idea that what they highlighted was being reported to Amazon and that they were keeping track.

Of course all such information can then be demanded by police agencies as well. But as evil as I think Amazon is, I never even considered that they would be recording what passages of a book customers underline for their own use.
And this isn't a big secret, you understand. Oh, no! They offer the information they gather freely on their site! It's not an invasion of privacy, it's just a marketing tool.

And so they settle forever the question of whether I want me one of them E-Reader gadgets. Guess I'll just have to keep killing trees. It's a bit more private that way.

On the disadvantages of live-breeding horses...

Well, my neighbors finally got all their horses back in one place. Which makes more work for me, which is good because more work pays more.

It seems they decided to celebrate Unification Day by breeding Paulo, the Stallion from Hell, to Solari, the World's Most Nervous Mare - who is also a virgin. The best that can be said of the outcome of this celebration is that there were no serious injuries. The same can't be said for property damage.

Solari is...still a virgin. But the fencing in Paulo's corral has got that "experienced" look. He's been in training for Western Pleasure class, but it seems that while in the city that boy might have profited more by some lessons in Foreplay Technique. Anyway, Solari wasn't having any of it, Paulo wasn't taking no for an answer, and in the negotiation some things you wouldn't have thought a horse could bend got pretty severely bent. But humans and horses remained miraculously untrampled.

Our neighbors have decided that skipping the insemination fee might just be a false economy after all.

I went to...a place...

And I did...a thing. And that's more than you need to know.

In the place of this line there was once a long, amusing paragraph. You'd have loved it, but my lawyers insisted that it come down.

In light of the possibility that you might find yourself in reluctant possession of something you don't want near, it's always best to have a place for such things. A place that is...not here. Fortunately I live 'way out in the boondocks, and I know places where nobody else ever seems to go. Places where a little camo, or a little dirt-cover, will go the whole way. In fact, since I'm the sort of paranoid soul who sometimes lays awake worrying about what would happen "if," I have such places already established. I principally set them up for git-outa-Dodge caches because, again, I live 'way out in the boondocks and I'm a one-legged old coot and need all the help I can get. But they can serve double duty as "this stuff shouldn't be here" caches as well. It's great what you can do with a big artillery can, a shovel, and a little imagination, but choose your hidey places wisely. "Obscure" shouldn't ever mean "Obscure from me."

And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tell me again how EXTREME it is...

...not to trust your government?

Because I gotta tell you, this thing is EXTREMELY creeping me out. Y'know, if somebody owed me $4K and I sent him a message like this, I've a feeling he'd have at least a civil if not a criminal case against me. "Nice house, Tom. Shame if something happened to it. We know where you live." Nah, nothing threatening about that.

But this is the government, so of course they mean it in a GOOD way.

When I become a terrorist...

I'm gonna have to get me one of those Facebook Page thingies. Because that's apparently a requirement.

I won't believe it till I read it on Alex Jones.

And yes I know it's probably already there. I'm not going to look.

According to this vitally important report you're not allowed to see unless you pay for it, summarized here, we're all DOOMED! DOOMED, I SAY!
...experts forecast if such an attack were a success, it effectively could throw the U.S. back into an age of agriculture.

"Within a year of that attack, nine out of 10 Americans would be dead, because we can't support a population of the present size in urban centers and the like without electricity," said Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy. "And that is exactly what I believe the Iranians are working towards."
Of course, there are some problems with the theory that the Iranians are blowing up their ICBMs in flight to further their research in high-level EMP destruction of the Great Satan:

1. Test missiles are routinely blown up in flight, to prevent damage downrange. The rocket geeks are testing the missile's ability to launch. They already know it has the ability to fall down - the science is settled on that.

2. Geez, that'd take one helluva bomb, to do everything we're supposed to be so afraid of. You sure a bunch of guys who can't get their society out of the twelfth century are up to something American nukie-poos are unable to do? Because I have doubts.

3. American missile sites are already hardened against EMP, or so I've always been told. So...why is a deterrent that worked for decades against the Soviet empire suddenly so toothless against...Iran?


That faint odor in the background... the scent of the Feds' case against the Hutaree as it starts to decompose.

If half of what the feds claim about the Hutaree is true, they are absolutely and squarely within the demographic our masters like to call "domestic terrorists." And we all know what feds love to do to enemies of the Constitution terrorists, foreign or domestic. Yupper, they like to throw them under the prison, bury the key in a concrete dam somewhere, and deny Habeas Corpus until the sun goes cold.

So...what's the deal with the Hutaree walking free on bond?

Well, they're not free yet. The federal prosecutor got a delay, pending - er - some line of reasoning he seems to have mislaid at the moment...
on Monday evening, Judge Roberts put her ruling on hold pending the prosecutions arguments as to their plans for appeal that are due to her on Wednesday afternoon. Prosecutors asked for that time so that they can consult with the U.S. Justice Department about a possible appeal to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The judge expects prosecutors to convince her that they can succeed in their appeal before she will continue to deny the militia members bond.

Now, riddle me this: A federal prosecutor can't convince a federal judge (hint - they both have the same logo on their paychecks) that a bunch of domestic terrorists should be treated like - terrorists? After a thorough investigation by the brave goons and goonettes of the Fidelity Bravery and Integrity Bureau? How could this be? Is something rotten in the state of the Justice Department?

Couldn't have anything to do with that amazingly competent "undercover agent" they had on the case. Could it?

H/T to Examiners David Codrea and Kevin Wilmeth.


My prospects for a booming career in the manual labor field are fading fast, if the fallout from the past two weeks is any indication.

Week before last I spent feverishly trying to finish a (rather small, I admit) concrete retaining wall. Beginning a week ago this past Saturday, we've been building a house. Tuesday I had to drop out because I couldn't walk any more. Since then I held up my end, except for staying away from carrying a lot of heavy objects up hills which is what lamed me on Saturday-Monday. The past several days are a blur.

On Sunday the last of the teeming masses went away. I fell instantly into a coma, from which I may have emerged this morning. At least this morning I'm feeling a little ambition toward joining the boys in a walky. Then I'll probably start thinking about another nappy, from which (if yesterday is any guide) I'll emerge sometime around sundown, just in time for bed. Oy.

Getting old and slow is highly overrated.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Yeah, okay. I got nothing.

This day has been so void of activity that it even included an afternoon nap. There is nothing going in my life today, either inside my head or without.

I can't even think of anything snarky to say about not having anything snarky to say.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Oh, for heaven's sake...

Well, it could certainly have come at a worse time. We had a little snow during the eight-day build party, but only a little and it melted right away. We had one windy night and day, but no damage. All in all it could have been far worse. This snow came right after Landlady and M headed for home.

But still. It's May, fergoshsake. May! Y'know: April showers bring May flowers? I want my flowers!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Oh, Brave New World...

...that has such atavistic people in it.

I persist in believing certain types to be extinct, or nearly so. This increasingly proves to be wishful thinkng.

First example here, via David Codrea, about which (the example, not Codrea) I truly believe the less said the better. This fellow, who to no surprise of mine claims to be a retired Federal "Only One," perfectly melds purported second amendment advocacy with a breed of virulent racism I thought had died out with my oldest uncle. Guess not. Click on him only if your stomach is thoroughly settled. Better yet, click on him not at all. One day soon he'll be discovered by the Brady Bunch, and will achieve his fifteen minutes.

Second example is alluded to here, via Billy Beck. Socialism, unlike so many other "isms," is a statist pathology that's been thoroughly tried, no matter what anybody says, and it invariably leads to tragedy. It's a source of much confusion to me, why there are still people out there who can't let it go. People who seem to truly believe that if we just try it more, try it better, this time it'll lead to heaven on earth.

Anyway, this dead fellow G.A. Cohen wrote a book called Why Not Socialism? - as if that question hadn't already been thoroughly answered by tens of millions of dead Asian peasants. I gather from the excerpts that Cohen, through his pathetic "camping trip" metaphor, isn't looking for the return of Stalin but rather a kinder, gentler, "voluntary" socialism that might take years to result in genocide. If he were alive, I'd suggest he read some accounts of the first few growing seasons of Plymouth Colony, before they wised up. Why not socialism? Because at its very best it doesn't work at all. At its worst, you get the Soviet Union. You never get peace, love and brotherhood.

I really don't get it. There are so many new tragic social experiments waiting to be tried. Why do people cling so bitterly to old, proven mistakes?